Rebecca Smith

Health Reporter

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.

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Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Following outcry from both students and faculty, University of Missouri-Columbia Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Friday that the University will "defer implementation" of its decision last week that would have stopped graduate student health insurance subsidies.

The University will pay previously promised health insurance subsidies to eligible graduate students.

MU says this reversal of the decision comes after “conversations with external experts and leadership, along with consultation with peer institutions, compliance experts and internal constituents.” 

But, as the phrase "defer implementation" implies, the complicated issues behind MU's original decision have not changed. MU has just adjusted its current plan.

cindyt7070 Flickr

University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Friday that the University will “defer implementation” of its decision last week that would have stopped graduate student health insurance subsidies.

The University will continue to pay health insurance subsidies to eligible graduate students.

When asked what had changed between last Friday and this Friday, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said simply “time.”

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Updated 8/21/15 at 12:40 p.m.

The University has reinstated previously promised health insurance subsidies for graduate students. 

 

Original Post:

University of Missouri- Columbia graduate students are considering walking out of classes next week, after finding out the university would stop providing health insurance subsidies. And some departments across campus are standing with those students.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

On Friday, many University of Missouri graduate students found out via email they would no longer receive help from the university to pay for their health insurance. The response on social media was strong and on Monday graduate students from across campus gathered to discuss their concerns and plan for their next step. 

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

More than 1,700 people waited in line for hours to get free dental care at a clinic in Columbia, Mo. this month. The turnout for this clinic, called the Missouri Mission of Mercy, reveals a hidden crisis: the expense of dental care and lack of access are major obstacles for many throughout the state and the country.

Throughout the event, held July 31st - August 1st, a team of reporters from the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk spoke to the patients receiving treatment at the event, and the volunteers who made it all possible.

Heroin use and overdose rates are rising across many demographics, including race, age, gender and income.  One former addict, Jude Hassan, works at a St. Louis-area treatment center and is working to raise awareness of drug abuse and addiction.

Jude Hassan was once a typical high school student– active in school extracurriculars and just wanting to fit in. But before he completed his time at St. Louis-area Lafayette High School, he was using heroin eight to 10 times a day.

Now, after more than eight years of sobriety, he's sharing his personal experiences of heroin addiction with high school students and working to educate parents and teachers about how to spot opioid use. 


Rosemary / Flickr

  Nine cases of mumps have now been confirmed in Columbia.

Andrea Waner with the Columbia/ Boone County Department of Public Health said the department is waiting on test results for three other suspected cases.

All five of the MU students with confirmed cases of mumps had received the recommended measles, mumps and rubella or MMR vaccine.

The Boone County Department of Public Health confirmed the five cases of mumps Thursday. All five students are between the ages of 20 and 23. 

Mumps is a virus that can cause fever, body aches, pain and swelling. Children are typically vaccinated for the disease at around one year, and again at 4 to 6 years. According to the Center for Disease Control, two doses are 88 percent effective at preventing the disease. 

OpenFile Vancouver / Flickr

A year ago Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed HB 2040 into law, allowing law enforcement officers and certified firefighters to carry and administer naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote.

Naloxone, or Narcan as it’s sometimes called, instantly reverses an overdose. And while the law has been in an effect for over a year, Missouri law enforcement agencies have not begun to use the drug.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Mark Stringer, the new Director for the Missouri Department of Mental Health began his job last week. This follows eight years as the Director for the Division of Behavioral Health and more than 28 years of experience in the mental health field.  KBIA’s Rebecca Smith sat down with Stringer to discuss his goals for the department and the challenges he expects to face. 


CDC NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality / The Center for Disease Control

The CDC reported in March of this year that the Midwest now sees higher rates of heroin overdose deaths than any other region of the country. The rate for heroin related deaths in the Midwest increased nearly 11-fold between 2000 and 2013.

Members of Missouri Law Enforcement said that opiates, including prescription drugs and heroin, have become more commonly abused in recent years.

According to the St. Louis County Health Department there were 113 heroin related deaths in 2014. And according to the St. Louis City Department of Health there were 123 heroin or opiate overdose deaths in the city.

Here a lawmaker, a treatment expert and families talk about the impact heroin and opiates are having in Missouri.


Bill Otto, Bill Otto For Congress

Democratic Missouri State Representative Bill Otto announced Tuesday that he is running for the United States House of Representatives.

He said he intends to run to represent Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers most of the suburbs west and south of St. Louis.

Jay Ashcroft, Twitter

Jay Ashcroft, a Republican candidate for Missouri secretary of state, is pushing an initiative petition that would allow the Legislature to require voters to present photo identification at the polls.

The St. Louis attorney filed a proposed constitutional amendment with the secretary of state's office on Thursday. This amendment would permit voter photo ID requirements.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

A House bill that would have allowed anyone to possess and administer naloxone, a drug that reverses opiate overdoses was one of the victims of the Senate stalemate at the end of the 2015 Legislative session.

Last July, Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill that allows law enforcement to carry naloxone in their vehicles and administer the drug at the scene of an overdose. This is much like what paramedics have done throughout the state for many years.

But some legislators, advocates and law enforcement believe that putting Narcan in the hands of friends and family of addicts would be more effective at saving lives.


McDonald County, in the rural far southwest corner of Missouri, ranked last in the 2014 County Health Rankings for clinical care compared to other Missouri counties, a measure which includes access to doctors, dentists, number of residents who are uninsured, and a few other factors.


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